Gov. Tom Wolf announced that counties that remain in the red phase of his reopening plan are expected to move to yellow by June 5, at 12:01 a.m. This includes Bucks County.
“We know not only that we succeeded in slowing case growth, but that our actions, our collective decisions to stay at home and avoid social contact – we know that saved lives,” Wolf said. “My stay-at-home order did exactly what it was intended to do. It saved lives and it bought us valuable time.”
Wolf referred to a study by Drexel University that indicates that in Philadelphia alone, 60 days of staying at home resulted in more than 7,000 lives saved and prevented more than 68,000 people from needing hospitalization.
In deciding which counties to move to yellow, the state used risk-based metrics from Carnegie Mellon University combined with contact tracing and testing capability and a sustained reduction in COVID-19 hospitalizations. While 50 new cases per 100,000 population was considered, it did not weigh any more heavily than other factors.
Over the past two weeks:
– The state has seen sustained reductions in hospitalizations. From May 8 when the first counties moved to yellow, to last week, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized dropped by nearly 1,000 – from 2,618 to 1,667.
– The number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators shrank by about a third, from 505 to 347.
– New cases continue to decline: From May 8 to May 15, the state added 6,384 cases and from May 15 to 21, added 4,770.
– The current COVID-19 incidence rate in the state is 83.4 cases per 100,000 people. Two weeks ago, it was 113.6 per 100,000. Most other states are seeing their new case rate continue to increase or remain flat. Pennsylvania is one of just 19 states with new case-rate declines.
Counties that have been in the yellow phase for the requisite 14 days are closely monitored for the risk associated with transitioning to the green phase.
In the green phase, the government will continue to take precautions, including reducing building capacity, encouraging teleworking, limiting visitation in certain high-risk environments, and preventing large entertainment gatherings.
The guidelines for moving to green are available here, and include specifics for employers, large events and social gatherings.
“We continue to increase testing every day and are continuing to build our contact tracing capacity as well,” Wolf said. “We are able to do these things, to be successful, to reopen in this manner because of the Pennsylvanians who have made tremendous sacrifices since the virus emerged in our state. Thank you.
“I want to remember and honor all of those who we lost and give solace to their family and loved ones. The last two months have been trying and they have tested each of us, and I want to thank and acknowledge all the people of our commonwealth who have been called upon to upend their lives to keep their neighbors, friends and family safe.”